Yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar is credited with popularizing yoga in the West, and even today in his 90s, he continues to practice yoga. He’s also credited with introducing the use of yoga props. Although modern students may not consider yoga towels and yoga mats props, per se, but rather necessities, these, as well as other tools, such as yoga blocks and yoga straps, are part of many yoga studios today. Iyengar believes that using props promotes proper alignment and body mechanics when performing the asanas (poses).
Iyengar believes that yoga is a constant learning process and that you’re not really performing yoga unless you’re doing the poses correctly. For that reason he encourages the use of blocks to modify and adapt the asanas to the beginning student. Blocks also help you transition between poses to avoid potential injury and make the process seamless. If you’ve injured yourself, blocks could compensate for any loss of flexibility or strength. And your yoga teacher may recommend these props so that you perform the poses correctly.
As their name implies, yoga straps look like belts with a buckle at the end. They are particularly useful to open up the pelvic area, such as in the cobbler pose, where you loop the strap around your waist and feet together then pull the loose end such that your knees move toward the floor and your feet meet your body. A yoga strap can also be used to more deeply stretch the hamstrings and quadriceps.